A shaky day of trading on Wall Street finished with a minor drop for equities on Wednesday as investors considered a report showing that inflation remained quite high, clearing the door for the Federal Reserve to boost interest rates more aggressively.
A late-afternoon decline wiped out the timid advances that the main stock indexes had clung to for much of the day. The S&P 500 finished 0.3% down, marking its sixth straight loss. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.1%.
Treasury rates, which have fueled most of Wall Street’s recent trade, fell. The 10-year Treasury yield, which influences mortgage rates, dipped to 3.90% from 3.95% late Tuesday. The yield on the 2-year Treasury slipped to 4.28% from 4.30%.
The S&P 500 fell 11.81 points to 3,577.03. The benchmark index is down about 25% so far this year and is close to its lowest point in nearly two years.
The Dow dropped 28.34 points to 29,210.85, while the Nasdaq slipped 9.09 points to 10,417.10. The indexes are on pace for a weekly loss.
Utilities, technology companies and healthcare stocks weighed on the market, keeping gains elsewhere in check. Duke Energy fell 4%, Texas Instruments slid 1.2% and Abbott Laboratories closed 1.6% lower.
PepsiCo rose 4.2% after raising its profit forecast for the year following encouraging quarterly financial results.
Cruise line operators were among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500. Carnival rose 10.1%, Norwegian Cruise Line gained 11.6% and Royal Caribbean climbed 11.5%.
Small company stocks also lost ground. The Russell 2000 index fell 5.15 points, or 0.3%, to 1,687.76.
A closely watched report on consumer prices is due Thursday and data on retail sales for September are due Friday. Both reports could help give Wall Street a clearer picture of where prices remain hottest and how consumers are reacting.
The corporate earnings season begins in earnest this week. Domino’s Pizza and Walgreens will report their results on Thursday. Big banks, including Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, will report results on Friday.
The British pound weakened against the U.S. dollar after the governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, confirmed the bank will not extend beyond Friday an emergency debt-buying plan introduced last month to stabilize financial markets. Markets in Europe mostly fell.
The U.S. dollar has been gaining strength relative to other currencies amid increased recession fears. The Japanese yen declined to a 24-year low against the U.S. dollar to 146 yen levels, raising expectations of an intervention to prop up the yen following one such move in September.